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For the first time in transportation history, SEPTA plans to suspend all service – buses, trains and subways – at 12:30 a.m. on Sunday in response to Hurricane Irene.

The city will not order evacuations from flood prone areas, Mayor Nutter said this afternoon, but three city high schools will be open as shelters.

Nutter urged residents who live in flood-prone areas to use common sense and evacuate before the worst of the storm arrives, now projected to be about midnight Saturday.

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Otherwise, he urged residents to stay indoors and off the roads throughout the storm, expected to last more than 12 hours in Philadelphia and bring six to nine inches of rain and sustained winds of 50 to 60 mph.

The city plans to open its emergency operations center on Spring Garden Street Saturday evening. From there, city departments will coordinate any response necessary to the storm.

Shelters will open Saturday at Roxborough, Bartram and Lincoln High Schools.

Half of SEPTA’s regional rail lines – the Chestnut Hill West, Wilmington, Trenton, Paoli and Airport lines – will suspend service at 5 p.m. Saturday. Those lines are powered by Amtrak, which is shutting them down then.

On average Sunday, SEPTA moves about 200,000 people. SEPTA hopes to restore service sometime Sunday after the storm passes.

Source: (By Troy Graham-INQUIRER STAFF WRITER)

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